Note: Today’s guest post comes from my good buddy Travis Smith, former starting second baseman at Assumption College. I’ve known Travis since high school and he is easily one of the hardest workers I know. We talk all the time here on Show Me Strength about what it means when someone truly grinds. When he played, Travis was the embodiment of a grinder and I think you’ll find a lot of value in his guest series.
For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be a professional baseball player.
Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve acknowledged that I failed; since I haven’t played a meaningful baseball game since last May, its pretty clear on a daily basis that I failed at becoming a professional baseball player. But putting that sentence down in words leads to an interesting, and sometimes uncomfortable, path of reflection.
Fortunately for you, I made it all the way down that path unscathed, and now I’m ready to help prevent you from ever having to venture down that same road.
Originally I was going to spend some time talking about my career, but it’s a long, unimpressive story that most people would not care about in the slightest. You’re on this website to make yourself a better athlete, and I completely understand and respect that.
As briefly as possible, I was a division-two baseball player that couldn’t hit consistently. For reasons that had little to do with my offensive ability and a ton to do with “projectability” (AKA I was tall and could throw the ball really hard across the infield), I had workouts with some MLB teams. I had some good seasons, I had many more bad seasons, and went undrafted.
While I may not be an authority on hitting curveballs, I am an authority on what I did wrong and how I could have improved my training, my mental approach, and everything else that embodies a successful athlete. The point of this series will be to illustrate the mistakes I made in an effort to prevent you from doing the same.
“Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen” in Regard to Strength Training
I’m not sure where this line originated from, or I would certainly credit it, because whoever originally spoke these words had a great handle on productivity and getting things done. To put it in its simplest form, and stick to the original analogy, its not hard for a single chef to boil a pot of water: it becomes tough when fifteen chefs have to boil one pot of water and every one of them has a different method for boiling water, a different trick to speed up the process, and so on.
In short, you need to be careful who you listen to. In the age of the internet and commercial gyms, there is no shortage of weight-training advice, and certainly no shortage of bad weight-training advice. Just because that guy in your gym has huge biceps doesn’t mean what he says should have any bearing on your training. Chances are, he is not an expert on building rotational core strength or optimizing the timing of your rotator cuff.
When I was playing, I always enjoyed lifting, and I loved the grind. I may not have loved every set of Bulgarian split-squats, but I loved leaving the gym everyday knowing that I was closer to my ultimate goal. I looked forward to going to bed early on a Thursday night to be rested and ready to go for a 7 AM lift on Friday morning.
The problem arose when I started thirsting for more information on exercises and programs, and lost my ability to stick to one program. In this way, you need to be careful what you read and what you expose yourself to.
For me, it was T-Nation. Every afternoon after class I would head back to my dorm and read the latest post from Wendler or Thibaudeau or Bruno. The problem for me was that everything on T-Nation appealed to me. And when a lifting program appealed to me, I wanted to try it. Regardless of the fact that I was already in the second week of an eight-week strength program, suddenly, in my head, I was doing the wrong program.
And even when I didn’t directly change my strategy, the appeal of the new program made me doubt my current program. I might have finished the remaining six weeks, but was my heart truly in those lifts anymore? Or was I just rushing through them in order to get to the next program?
To be clear, I’m not advocating ignorance or suggesting you avoid websites like T-Nation or Show Me Strength just because you already have a program. There is never a bad time to read an article on perfecting your squat technique or generating more power off the floor on your deadlifts.
But if you have a program, I would avoid reading that article proposing an entirely new program. Because chances are, you’re going to like it, and you’re going to want to incorporate it, at the expense of your current program. Maybe you’re mentally strong enough to read about a new program and not want to try it, but I wasn’t.
Bookmark the article, and come back to it when you’re actually ready to start a new program. No matter who you are, eight weeks of one single training program will help you more than two weeks each from four different training programs.
If you enjoyed the first volume, be sure to check back next week for part 2 of the series!